This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.
Episodes Watched: 8 of 8
Similar to how video game adaptations have recently been getting better, for the most part, the curse seems to be lifting on the anime side of things thanks to Netflix’s One Piece. Eiichiro Oda has wanted to make a live-action version of his well-acclaimed manga series for some time, but has been waiting for the right opportunity to do so. If you’re familiar with One Piece, then you know there are some insane things that might seem impossible to translate into live action that take place. Oda finally found the opportunity with Netflix, who been working closely with them ever since.
The One Piece manga and anime series, created by Eiichiro Oda, revolves around pirates. It begins when the King of the Pirates initiates the Golden Age of Piracy by tasking all pirates with finding his treasure, known as the “One Piece.” Throughout the series, we follow Monkey D. Luffy as he embarks on a thrilling quest to discover the “One Piece” and claim the title of King of the Pirates. On his journey, Luffy forms new alliances with friends who join his crew, while also confronting the Marines (Sea Police) and rival pirates who share the same ambition.
It’s hard to gain people’s trust with anime adaptations, especially when it comes to Netflix. After the failure of Death Note in 2017, no one wanted Netflix to touch another anime again. A lot of worries came when they announced that One Piece would be getting a live-action adaptation. Thankfully, Netflix has proven it has produced the best live-action anime adaptation. The first thing that’s easy to notice from the first episode is that this isn’t a carbon copy of the manga or anime, which both have different starts to the series. Netflix’s One Piece follows in that same step, and while keeping the spirit of the original story, they’re able to change moments and switch things around that don’t damage it.
Netflix’s One Piece perfectly captures the wacky essence of this manga series and brings it to life on the screen. The show remains faithful to Oda’s work, showcasing a unique film style that immerses viewers in the anime experience with its dynamic cinematography. Unlike Netflix’s adaptation of Cowboy Bebop, where the anime feels stale, One Piece delivers a truly cinematic feel that enhances the grand adventure. Comparing it to the manga or anime, the series presents a refreshing perspective, offering a new and captivating way to experience this captivating story.
As we know, thanks to the many trailers and the episode titles, Netflix’s One Piece manages to adapt the majority of the East Blue Saga into eight episodes. This may be worrying to hear that they’ve condensed the manga whole and 61 episodes of the anime into just a few episodes, but not once does it feel like they’re rushing through it, and that’s a magic that all anime adaptations need to follow. A lot of scenes are either rearranged, changed just slightly, or cut entirely. These changes fit perfectly and made sense with the story, but there were some changes that felt unnecessary overall and took up the runtime.
The script for this show was really well-written, with each character feeling true to the original manga. While there were a few instances where the characters felt slightly different, for the most part, they stayed faithful to their beloved counterparts. The script also added depth to many of the characters, making this live-action adaptation of One Piece truly worthwhile. The performances were outstanding across the board, even for characters that may not have been in the spotlight before. It’s definitely one of the best anime adaptations out there.
Now onto the Straw Hats, who had the best on-screen chemistry that I’ve seen in a while. Inaki, Mackenyu, Emily, Jacob, and Taz all bring their characters to life with the stellar performances that they provide for them. Inaki was able to bring that goofy feeling to Luffy by smiling in serious moments while also being able to get really serious when it was required. He showcased the perfect emotion that was needed to play a character like Luffy.
To add to what is already an amazing show, the set design was beyond immaculate, amongst the costume design and the CGI, which was uniquely used in moments where Luffy or Buggy would showcase their devil fruit abilities. The practical work used on the show, when possible, was amazing, especially with the Den Den Mushis, which could have easily been CGI. Thankfully, I’m glad that they decided to go the practical route with them, which actually makes them look part of this weird and wacky world.
One Piece isn’t a perfect adaptation, but it is a step in the right direction. There are flaws even within something as good as this, but as always, there is room for improvement in a second season, which it deserves. Netflix’s One Piece is able to stay true to Oda’s work by bringing those emotionally iconic scenes that everyone knows and loves to life and doing justice to them. The show’s passion, from production to marketing, outweighs any shortcomings, and now that it’s officially out, you can witness their heartfelt effort for yourself. One Piece is no doubt going to be a success for Netflix and could easily be the next big franchise for them.
One Piece is streaming now on Netflix.